When you fill up your shopping cart at your local grocery store, do you automatically reach for the same foods every week? Eggs, chicken breast, apples, repeat. Eggs, chicken breast, apples, repeat. Same shrimp, different day. Today, since March is National Nutrition Month, we’d like to encourage you to shake things up a little at the store. There is a wide, varied, colorful, and exciting world of food out there that is begging you to get out of your food-shopping rut. Interested? These are some of our favorite ways to celebrate National Nutrition month.
- Give back. A lot of attention is paid to food pantries and food banks around the holidays, but public interest tends to fizzle out the rest of the year. Since you’re already at the grocery store, why not grab a few extra items to donate? Go for the 5:1 rule – for every five items you put in your cart for yourself, grab an item in to donate. And pass on the instant stuffing mix or instant potatoes. Food banks tend to run low on the items you probably like to buy for yourself: peanut butter, tuna, olive or canola oil, spices, nuts, and healthy snacks. After all, good nutrition is important for everyone; not just those who can afford it, right?
- Revisit the food groups. Instead of reaching for your go-to staples, try exploring new foods in each food group.
- Grains: Have you ever tried millet, barley, or bulgur? Many of these lesser-used grains are packed with protein and fiber. Amaranth, for example, is packed with calcium, and is high in iron and magnesium.
- Produce: Really dig into your store’s produce section. Revisit items that you’d previously sworn off. Brussels sprouts, eggplant, beets, and squash can be totally delicious when roasted and seasoned well. Find some great ideas for those “alternative” veggies here: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20831770,00.html
- Protein: Let’s face it – cooked chicken can get a little tiresome. Look up some recipes and explore with lamb, ground turkey, tofu, garbanzo beans, or quinoa. Cottage cheese, for example, boasts 14 grams of protein per serving. A cup of black beans? 15 grams.
- Dairy: Aside from the obvious sources of Greek yogurt, and cheese, the all-important calcium can show up in surprising places. Collard greens, kale, canned salmon with bones, and ricotta cheese all boast impressive calcium stats. You and your bones will thank us one day.
- DIY it. Yes, try growing your own. Think you can’t garden? Think you don’t have the space, time, or know-how? We beg to differ. Many herbs and vegetables can live happy, productive lives when planted in a pot on a sunny balcony, window ledge, or porch. Make sure it’s a spot that gets a good amount of sun each day, and go for it once the nights stop reaching freezing temperatures. Plants that can thrive in flower pots include: peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and many kinds of herbs. Find some helpful hints and ideas for container gardening here: http://www.diyncrafts.com/7137/food/35-easiest-container-pot-friendly-fruits-vegetables-herbs
Good nutrition equals health, energy, and balance in your life. We love that National Nutrition Month happens to be March, when folks around the country have their thoughts set on spring, growth, and warmth. Challenge yourself to grow into a wider appreciation for nutrition in all its varieties, the cycle of food from beginning to end, and the fact that everyone deserves to feel their best.